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Penny Makes a Big Splash at MORE Swim School

Penny Stewart, a 6-year-old girl who is deaf, has been able to enjoy group swimming lessons with the support of her mum, Lisa, and swim teacher, Connor.

Penny’s swimming journey started after her brother enrolled in group swimming lessons and seeing how much he enjoyed it, making new friends and becoming much more confident in the water, their Mum Lisa wanted Penny to enjoy the same experience. 

Initially, Lisa was wary about enrolling Penny, but soon learnt about the Council’s commitment to the British Deaf Association’s British Sign Language (BSL) & Irish Sign Language (ISL) Charter, and contacted the MORE Team to see how they could help.

Although noise reverberations in the pool can make it difficult to hear at the best of times, Lisa was really happy with the adjustments that were put in place for Penny. At the beginning, even putting her face close to and then into water was very scary for Penny, but her water confidence started to improve every week.

Speaking of how Connor assisted Penny’s individual needs, Lisa said

Penny’s swim teacher Connor has been terrific in supporting Penny’s individual needs; even though he hadn’t taught a deaf child to swim before. He was really keen to make sure Penny understood the instructions, and asked me for advice on the best signs to use to communicate with her. He even went the extra mile by researching information in his own time, asking me questions and chatting about some ideas he had to help. His communication skills with Penny have really strengthened, and it really has been a two-way learning experience!

Penny loved being with the other children in the class and some of them even learnt about being deaf and how to communicate with her, which was great!

Building on her own positive experiences, Lisa advises other parents of children with additional needs who are thinking of getting started with swimming lessons to contact the Council. She highlights that in her case, Penny’s swimming teacher wanted to learn and was more than willing to make the lesson inclusive. It’s about building awareness and making facilities more inclusive so that everyone can enjoy learning this vital life skill.

Supporting Information

View Council’s British Deaf Association’s BSL & ISL Charter

For more information about swimming lessons and how we can support parents and children with additional needs contact:

The MORE Leisure Customer Hub: 

Ellen Boyd, Accessibility Officer: